Sundew

Plants

Description

Sundews comprise one of the largest groups of carnivorous plants with at least 194 species globally and are found on every continent except Antarctica.
The name sundew refers to the glistening drops at the tip of each tentacle that resemble drops of morning dew.
Nutrients are scarce among the mosses so and the sundew plant has evolved a gruesome way of topping up by capturing and digesting insects.   

Sundews lure, capture and digest insects using sweet sticky tentacles covering their leaf surface.
When insects touch them they become trapped. Eventually the insect dies either through suffocation or exhaustion. The plant then dissolves the insides of the insect into a nutrient soup which the plant can absorb.

Once the prey has been digested, the leaf unfurls, leaving only the prey's exoskeleton behind.
Although most of its prey consists of small insects such as flies, larger insects are also caught. Small butterflies, damselflies, and even dragonflies can become immobilized by the plant's sticky mucilage.

All species of sundew are able to move their tentacles. The tentacles are extremely sensitive and will bend toward the centre of the leaf in order to bring the insect into contact with as many other tentacles as possible. 

The English Sundew (Drosera anglica) is also capable of further movement, being able to bend the actual leaf blade around prey. Tentacle movement can occur in a matter of minutes, whereas the leaf takes hours or days to bend.

 

Sundew. Photograph by Tim Walter.

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Did you know?

The area of Fenn's, Whixall and Bettisfield Mosses combined is the third largest area of raised peat bog in Britain. On average, 1 hectare of peatland can store 10 times more carbon than 1 hectare of woodland



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